Amazonian Tri-Country Indigenous Summit
In early September 1997, indigenous leaders from Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela met to demand the formal demarcation
of their lands, demand the expulsion of "squatters" who illegally use their lands for mining, and express
their concern over planned cross-border development projects. At the Amazonian Tri-Country Indigenous Summit, members
from the Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR), the National Indigenous Council of Venezuela (CONIVE), and the AmerIndian
Peoples of Guyana (APA) met to discuss their role in the development of the northern Amazon rainforest of Guyana,
Southern Venezuela, and northern Brazil.
Indigenous groups want land demarcation so it will be more difficult for the government to grant timber and mining
concessions on lands they traditionally use for hunting, fishing, and collecting rainforest products. Recently,
the governments of all three countries have granted huge logging concessions to Asian timber firms on lands traditionally
used by indigenous groups.
The leaders of the conference made it clear that while do not necessarily dismiss new development in the region,
they want careful social and environmental impact studies before projects proceed. More importantly, the groups
want a larger role in the decision making process on these projects which will directly affect them. At the 5-day
meeting, representatives expressed specific concern over the plan to run powerlines from the Guri dam in Venezuela,
though the rainforest (including Canaima national park) to Guyana and Brazil; the increased logging in the region;
and the highway projects linking Manaus with Caracas and Georgetown (Guyana) with Boa Vista (Roraima, Brazil).
Leaders sent formal petitions to the presidents of Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela and plan to continue meeting on
an annual basis to discuss progress. The organizers hope that the message of the conference will be recognized;
that indigenous people are no longer willing to be exploited by their governments.
Continued: People of the Rainforest
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